350,000 Hongkongers March Despite Police Ban, Days After Assault on Prominent Activist

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from The Epoch Times:

Thousands of Hongkongers took to the streets in the afternoon on Oct. 20 despite a police ban just days after a prominent activist was brutally attacked by thugs who are still at large.

The march’s participants, many of them dressed in black while some holding an umbrella, set off from Salisbury Garden in Tsim Sha Tsui at around 1:30 p.m. local time. One hour later, the first section of the march arrived at the destination, West Kowloon Station, which is about 1.5 miles away.

Protesters could be heard shouting slogans such as “five demands, not one less” and “Hongkongers Resist.”

Hong Kong protests
People take part in a pro-democracy march in the Tsim Sha Tsui district in Hong Kong on Oct. 20, 2019. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

The march was originally planned by the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), the organizer behind some of the city’s biggest protests to date. But the group lost an appeal against a police ban on Oct. 19. According to Hong Kong media, police prohibited the march citing fears of violence.

The organization estimated that 350,000 took part in Sunday’s march.

CHRF planned the march to call for the abolition of a controversial anti-mask law, which Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam put in place on Oct. 4 after she invoked a colonial-era emergency law. The law bans people from wearing facial masks during large public gatherings.

Four activists decided to lead the march despite the police ban, facing the possibility of being arrested by the police. The four were Figo Chan, 22, deputy convener at CHRF; Leung Kwok-hung, 63, of the League of Social Democrats; Albert Ho, 68, former chairman of the Democratic Party and current chairman of the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements in China; and Cyd Ho, 65, vice chairman of the Labour Party.

Prior to the march, organizers had been unsure about how many people would join, given that CHRF’s convener Jimmy Sham, 32, was brutally attacked by thugs wielding arms on Oct. 16, leaving him in a pool of blood on the sidewalk. According to CHRF, the attackers targeted Sham’s head, knees, and elbows during the assault.

Jimmy Sham blood
Blood is seen beyond a police cordon, where Jimmy Sham, convener of the Civil Human Rights Front (CHRF), was assaulted by four to five people wielding hammers in the Mongkok district of Kowloon in Hong Kong on Oct. 16, 2019. (Philip Fong/AFP via Getty Images)
Civil Human Rights Front leader Jimmy Sham
Hong Kong’s Civil Human Rights Front leader Jimmy Sham arrives at a hospital following an attack in Hong Kong, China in this still image obtained from social media video dated Oct. 16, 2019. (TANYA CHAN/REUTERS)

It was the second time that Sham has been attacked. Both transpired before CHRF led a major march. The last attack took place on Aug. 29, when Sham was assaulted at a restaurant in Kowloon by two masked men wielding a long knife and a baseball bat.

CHRF had originally planned to hold a march on Aug. 31 but it canceled after failing to secure police approval. Despite not being granted a permit, thousands went ahead to march the streets in both Wan Chai and Causeway Bay.

On Oct. 19, Sham released a “family letter” to Hongkongers in which he slammed the pro-Beijing Lam government for failing to approve the march.

“The government doesn’t tolerate dissenting opinion, and isn’t capable to [sic] solve the social problems. Rather, it only attempts to silence people who address the problem,” Sham stated.

He urged caution for those who planned to participate in the march on Oct. 20, saying, “Please take care of yourselves. Go home safely. I send my wish to everyone who take risk [sic] and gives themselves for Hong Kong.”

At around 4 p.m. local time, CHRF announced that Sham had been released from Kwong Wah Hospital.

Violence and Targeted Vandalism

Hong Kong
Protesters react after police fired tear gas in the Tsim Sha Tsui district in Hong Kong on Oct. 20, 2019. (Dale De La Rey/AFP via Getty Images)

The peaceful march soon turned into more clashes between police and protesters.

At around 3:15 p.m. local time, police officers at Tsim Sha Tsui Police station fired a round of tear gas at protesters who had surrounded the station. Prior to the attempt by the police to clear the crowds, some protesters had sprayed black paint at the police emblem on the station’s outer wall, while some had thrown petrol bombs at the station.

Police then deployed a water-cannon vehicle to clear protesters along Nathan Road, which links Tsim Sha Tsui and Sham Shui Po.

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